Image Credit: UFC / YouTube

Alexander Gustafsson is about to fight arguably the greatest fighter of all time, with various questions flying around, and “The Mauler” sounds extremely dialed-in on defeating Jon Jones.

Gustafsson will face the former light-heavyweight champ at UFC 232, December 29th, in what will mark the second time they’ve fought. When the two battled back in 2013, Jones emerged from the thrilling and tightly contested fight with the decision win.

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Not only is the upcoming fight a fascinating one due to the abilities of both men, and because it will determine the next 205 champ, there are other storylines attached. For one, Jones will be fighting for the first time since July, 2017, on account of his latest issues with USADA. As a result, there’s been questions about how Jones will perform come fight night.

But, when asked for his thoughts on the cage rust issue, Gustafsson recently said this (quotes via MMA Junkie):

“I don’t think it will affect him at all. I’m preparing for the best Jon out there. I’m preparing for a better Jon this time than last time. I just want to fight the best. No excuses after this fight. It doesn’t matter what he’s been doing or what I’ve been doing. It doesn’t matter now. It’s all about the 29th.”

Yes, history has already showed us that Gustafsson would be wise to not underestimate Jones, coming off a break from competition. After all, when Jones took out Cormier last summer, he hadn’t fought in well over a year as well. Further, Gustafsson himself hasn’t competed since May, 2017, when he defeated Glover Teixeira.

Then there’s the issue and or debate regarding whether Jones was properly prepared for his first fight with Gustafsson. Since their instant classic went down, Jones has claimed he defeated Gustafsson, despite the fact he hardly trained for the fight. Jones has also said that leading up to their first bout, he was partying all the time.

Well, when Gustafsson was asked to weigh in on Jones’ claims, the Swedish star said this:

“It gives me a smile on my face, nothing else,” Gustafsson said. “I know he’s making up these things to create ghosts in my head or excuses for his performance. I have no clue. But it doesn’t really matter. I know this guy is the best guy out there because he’s training so hard. He’s dedicated, and he is the best guy out there. It’s impossible for him not to train and perform like that. He has to train.”

There you have it. Now sure, there’s a chance that some of these comments from Jones are getting to Gustafsson, and inserting some doubt. But, even though Gustafsson’s argued that he, in fact, beat Jones in 2013, his comments appear to signal he’s keenly aware of the incredible task in front of him: handing Jones his first, real defeat.